BACKGROUND: With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936 the Germans supported the Nationalist Falangist Generalissimo Francisco Franco against the communist allied Republican Loyalist party. The German support consisted of assorted field equipment and weapons, the Imker-Gruppe, (Beekeeper Group), of ground personnel which included the Drohne-Gruppe, (Drone Group), of Panzer, (Armored), units and a group of Luftwaffe, (Air-{Weapon}, Force), volunteers designated as the Condor Legion. The participation in this conflict enabled the Germans to test their fledgling armed forces and by rotating personnel gave them a core of troops with actual combat experience. With the collapse of France in June 1940 Hitler appealed to Spain’s Generalissimo Francisco Franco to ally with the Axis as a form of repayment for Germany’s military assistance in the Spanish Civil war. Franco refrained from any commitment until the Germans invaded Russia which had provided aid to the Spanish communist Republican party during the Spanish Civil war. As a result it was decided that a Spanish Legion of roughly 4,000 personnel were to be raised and sent to the Russian front. When the call went out for the Spanish volunteers over 40,000, mostly Civil war veterans, came forward and it was decided to form a full Spanish Infantry Division. Since Spain had made no official declaration of war the Spanish volunteers were integrated into the German army as the 250TH Infantry Division but were most commonly referred to as the Spanish Blue Division. On November 9TH 1943 Franco introduced an award to recognize the Spanish service in Russia which was entitled, Commemorative Medal for the Spanish Volunteers in the Battle against Bolshevism. Although the Spaniards had already introduced award for it’s volunteers serving in Russia in appreciation for the service the Germans instituted the Bravery & Commemorative Medal of the Spanish Blue Division in January 1944 to recognize and reward the Spanish volunteers who served on the Russian front from August 1941 to October 1943. The criteria for bestowal of the award was very similar to the criteria for the Russian Front Medal with the main qualification being at least fourteen days of participation in combat on the Russian front. Of Note: Pressure from Great Britain for Spain to declare its neutrality, the decaying war situation and high Spanish casualties prompted Franco to request that the Germans release the Blue Division and return it to Spain, which they did in October 1943 although a token Spanish Legion did remain in service with the Germans.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Roughly, 1 3/4", (4.4cm), tall, 1 1/2", (3.8cm), wide, very ornate, Spanish manufactured, die struck alloy construction award with a burnished silver wash and black enamel work. The obverse of the award is in the form of a Spanish eagle with up-swept, fanned wings and extended talons and tail feathers, with a black enameled Iron Cross with a small, silver, swastika superimposed on its breast. The eagle is superimposed on a circular, laurel leaf wreath, with a Spanish crown to top center. The reverse features the silhouette of the eagle with the embossed towers of the Kremlin and script, "Rusia 1941" , (Russia 1941), all encompassed by a circular, chain link, border. The eagle shows nice detailing including cut-outs around the eagle’s head, talons, tail feathers and wings. The award has no visible manufacturer’s markings. Complete with original ribbon and pinback device.

GRADE ****1/2                             PRICE $120.00

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